As a newly qualified midwife almost 30 years ago I remember looking after a lady in labour with her first baby and being amazed at how well she laboured and birthed. Afterwards I asked her for the secret to such ease; I recall her saying that she had been swimming regularly throughout her pregnancy. I made a mental note at that point that when I had children I would do the same!
I detest swimming and I am one of those people who exits the pool with their hair still almost completely dry, having done my dodgy lengths of breast stroke, trying to avoid any swimmers splashing by. However, during each of my four pregnancies I swam once a week for about 30 minutes, even during my third pregnancy when I was crippled with back pain. As I swam up and down I remember my determination to “train” and prepare my body for labour and birth, and to be as fit and strong as possible in preparation for those early weeks as a new parent.
Today many women have a more sedentary lifestyle, especially if driving more than walking and have a job that involves sitting at a desk. This greatly impacts the bones, joints and ligaments in a detrimental way for labour and birth.
So, here are my top tips!
- Swim once a week once past 12 weeks of pregnancy for 30 minutes
- Walk 3 miles a day/10000 steps
- Wear flat shoes
- Make sure that when you are sitting your knees are lower than your hips to tilt your pelvis (and your baby!) forward
By the way, it may be a coincidence, but I had 4 straight forward, short labours and normal, easy births!